The PITC Trainer Institute is a comprehensive study of the PITC philosophy and recommended practices that support high-quality infant and toddler care.

Institute participants engage in a variety of interactive learning activities organized around the following four content modules.

Module I | Module II | Module III | Module IV

Module I: Social-Emotional Growth and Socialization

Caregiver smiles at contented child in her armsThis module explores early social–emotional growth and socialization, the central role of family and culture in early identity development, self-reflection to examine your feelings about social–emotional development, and the importance of nurturing relationships. In these interactive sessions, you will learn about social–emotional development, temperament tendencies, socialization and guidance, ages of infancy, and the responsive process.


Socialization, Guidance and Discipline with Infants and Toddlers in Group Care

This topic addresses definitions and goals of socialization, guidance, and discipline in the group care setting, as well as the influence of metatheories in our practice. Ways to guide and respond to the child’s whole development are explored, including strategies to prevent and respond to challenging behavior. Participants will consider all factors that influence behavior, including the important role of culture and family.

Understanding Children’s Behavior: Supporting the Individual Needs of Infants and Toddlers

This topic focuses on recognizing and understanding individual and developmental issues underlying the emotional messages and behavior of infants and toddlers in group care. Concepts and training strategies to help care teachers understand and respond appropriately to infants and toddlers are introduced. Participants practice using a tool to consider possible reasons for children’s behaviors and identify appropriate responses.


This topic explores temperament tendencies in infants and toddlers. Videos illustrate and deepen understanding of five temperament tendencies and include examples and strategies to respond to and support children with temperament tendencies in the group care setting.

Social-Emotional Development, Responsive Caregiving, and Identity

This topic examines how an understanding of three age periods of infancy (birth to around 8 months, around 8 months to around 18 months, and around 18 months to 36 months) and the corresponding developmental themes of security, exploration, and identity can help adults attune their nurturance of infants and toddlers. Different factors that influence responsive care are considered, including an understanding of child development, sensitivity to the family and culture of each child, self-reflection, observation, and careful reading of children’s cues.

Module II: Group Care

Teacher with two infants on her lap interacting with a toddler who is standing next to themThis module focuses on program policies and design, which provide a foundation for high-quality relationship-based care in group care settings, including family child care. While engaging in a collaborative learning approach, you will explore primary caregiving and continuity of care, small groups and individualization of care, responsive caregiving routines, and inclusive and responsive learning environments.


Environments for Group Care

This topic revolves around the notion that the infant and toddler environment is essential to relationship-based care. A well-planned environment, both indoors and outdoors, can support the needs of children, families, and teachers and can facilitate more effective curriculum and implementation of the PITC program policies. The session takes a close look at eight concepts at the heart of high-quality infant and toddler care environments: health, safety, comfort, convenience, choice, flexibility, movement, and child size.

More Than Just Routine

This topic looks at caregiving routines as an essential part of the curriculum for infants and toddlers, from health and safety to opportunities for children’s learning and relationship building. In addition, participants explore the cultural influence on approaches to caregiving routines.

Making It Happen: Small Groups and Individualized Care

This topic focuses on two PITC program policies: small groups and individualized care. Participants consider how these two policies support programs to meet the unique needs of each child, for example, the children’s age, developmental level, temperament tendencies, family and cultural practices, and differing abilities.

Exploring Primary Caregiving and Continuity of Care

This topic explores two PITC program policies: primary caregiving and continuity of care. Through personal reflections, reading about relationship-based practices and attachment theory, and watching video examples, participants consider the benefit of these policies to infants and toddlers. Participants also explore cultural considerations, and some common barriers to implementation and possible solutions.

Respectful Care (Optional)

Participants review the highly influential and regarded approach to infant/toddler care of internationally known expert Magda Gerber; including the challenging and sometimes controversial ideas in areas such as guidance and discipline, toys and equipment, infant stimulation, and culture and family. 

Module III: Learning and Development

A teacher and two infants look at a book outdoorsThis module offers a look at how infants and toddlers learn through interacting in relationships, participating in routines, and exploring environments. Within your community of learners, you will explore early brain development, language development and communication, cognitive development, perceptual and motor development, and how to create a sense of belonging for each child through inclusive care.


Brain Development in Infants and Toddlers

This topic addresses early brain development and, in particular, recent research that is most relevant to the care of infants and toddlers in groups. Participants will explore gene–environment interaction; how early experiences influence the wiring of our brains; the effect of stress on early brain development and how nurturing, responsive care can mitigate this stress; the need for predictable, responsive relationship experiences; and a high-quality environment that supports an infant’s natural drive to explore and learn.

Discoveries of Infancy: Cognitive Development and Perceptual and Motor Development

This topic looks at how infants and toddlers develop and learn through discovering their world around them. With the understanding that infants are born active, curious, and motivated learners and that early learning happens holistically and based in relationships, participants will learn about how adults can effectively support these “discoveries of infancy,” in particular, infant and toddler cognitive development and perceptual and motor development.

Inclusive Care

This topic focuses on information and techniques trainers can use to help infant care teachers become more comfortable with the idea of and knowledgeable about including infants and toddlers with disabilities or delays in group care, including knowing the relevant laws and policies. Participants examine their own attitudes toward inclusion and disabilities and learn about the importance of belonging; about inclusion laws and policies relevant to infant and toddler care; how to adapt toys, materials, and environments so that children with disabilities can use them effectively; how to work with parents; and how to find support when needed.

Language Development, Communication, and Culture

This topic explores how infants and toddlers learn language and how care teachers can facilitate language development and communication in their infant and toddler programs. Participants reflect on their own experiences with language learning and consider several strategies to support language development and communication in infants and toddlers, including how to care for infants and toddlers in a bilingual child care setting. Participants explore 10 strategies for supporting language development.

Module IV: Culture, Family, and Providers

This module explores the powerful roles of culture, family, and providers in the development of infants and toddlers. You will reflect on your own and others’ personal experiences and cultural perspectives to deepen your understanding, sensitivity, and cultural competence. Take advantage of the learning opportunities to increase awareness and develop strategies to support infant and toddler programs in providing culturally responsive care.This module explores the powerful roles of culture, family, and providers in the development of infants and toddlers. You will reflect on your own and others’ personal experiences and cultural perspectives to deepen your understanding, sensitivity, and cultural competence. Take advantage of the learning opportunities to increase awareness and develop strategies to support infant and toddler programs in providing culturally responsive care.


Harmonizing Diverse Perspectives

This topic explores cultural expectations and biases. Participants have an opportunity to learn about alternative perspectives and realities through the cultural lenses and experiences of others. This type of exploration is designed to help participants increase their capacity for becoming culturally aware and responsive to families with children in infant and toddler care.

Culturally Responsive Relationships

This topic helps participants increase their awareness of their own cultural assumptions and of how these assumptions may affect their interactions with families from cultures different from their own. Activities are designed to allow participants to explore in depth their own cultural roots. Participants explore the role of culturally responsive relationships with families.

Protective Urges: Parent-Care Teacher Relations

This topic focuses on the underlying emotional issues of infant care and the impact these issues have on infant care teacher and parent relationships. Participants explore the heightened emotions parents often feel when they bring their infants to an infant and toddler care program as well as the protective feelings and emotional responses teachers often experience when they care for infants. The activities offer strategies infant care teachers can use to ease parental concerns about infant and toddler care, as well as steps teachers can take to work through their own feelings related to protective urges and working with parents.

Acknowledge, Ask, and Adapt

In this topic, participants discuss scenarios that focus on learning to interact with families and handle culturally sensitive issues in responsive ways. Participants explore the Acknowledge, Ask, Adapt process for communicating with families to resolve issues. In addition, participants have opportunities to engage in role-play activities to explore cultural issues that commonly occur in infant and toddler care.